Carol Sinclair gives an insight into mentoring and the benefits it can bring to both the mentee and mentor.
Once you have experienced mentoring the chances are you will be hooked. Whether you are the mentee or the mentor it is so rewarding to have a professional conversation that enables you to reflect on your ambitions and clarify the steps you need to take to get there.
As the mentee it is such a privilege to have time focused on you and your practice, to speak to someone who understands something of your world and yet is not there to make judgements, as friends and family often do, or tell you what to do. This is actually a common misconception about mentoring. While it can initially seem appealing to be told what to do to be successful, the best mentors will support their mentees to work it out for themselves.
“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.”
Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring
And let’s face it, none of us really like being told what to do anyway. We usually already have our own solutions bubbling around in our subconscious, we just need the space and support to draw that out.
Of course there may be times when a mentor will be asked for practical and factual information, and they will usually be very happy to provide that, if they know the answer. Another common misunderstanding is that one mentor will provide all the answers a mentee needs, but even if mentors are very experienced they will not know everything. So it makes more sense to have a range of different mentors over time who can help with specific aspects of what you need.
The more experienced you become with the mentoring process the more specific you can be in identifying the right mentor. And that’s how you get hooked, as you realise that mentoring is a highly effective process that you can use all through your professional life. And before you know it, you realise that it would also be rewarding to support other people they way you have been supported, so you become a mentor.
The Resilience Programme is a new mentoring initiative run by Applied Arts Scotland and Craft Scotland to encourage makers to experience and adopt mentoring. There is an enormous amount of collective knowledge and experience in the craft community and the pandemic has forced makers to be even more innovative, to reinvent their ways of working and rapidly learn new skills. The Resilience Programme will help makers tap into this collective wisdom to gain new perspectives, take valuable and supported time to reflect and develop the resilience required to re-energise and revitalise their practice.